Cites Careless Driving as Threat to Safety
July 13, 2020 (Pensacola, Fla.) — A local man arrested for falling on the hood of an SUV which tried to drive through a crowd of protesters is fighting back.
Attorneys for Jason Uphaus, arrested for holding onto the hood of a car that charged at him and other Black Lives Matter protesters at the base of the Chappie James Bridge, have filed a motion to dismiss all charges against him based on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
The motion filed by local attorney Chris Klotz on Monday states that the driver of the car, Nathan Matusz, was using the SUV in a way that physically threatened the life and safety of the protesters.
This threat, along with case law that gives citizens the right to protect themselves while standing in the street, triggered Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and gave Uphaus the right to defend himself and his fellow protesters, by laying on the hood of the car instead of being run over.
In the motion, Klotz also asserts that the driver of the car, Matusz, has a history of ignoring police instructions and careless driving. Given recent news reports of protesters being intentionally targeted and run over by automobile drivers, the importance of protecting citizens from aggressive drivers is even more urgent.
“Here you have a group of peaceful protesters, speaking out against the brutal killing of George Floyd by police, being protected by the police who are directing traffic. For some reason, Nathan Matusz, who already has a record of ignoring police and driving carelessly decides to ignore the police officer directing traffic, drives into the crowd and tries to push his way through – with his SUV,” said Klotz.
“Fearing for his safety and that of his fellow protesters, our client had two choices. He could either get run over, or fall onto the hood and hold on to avoid being hurt or killed. The great irony of this situation is that, here you have police officers trying to keep citizens safe, and the guy that actually disregards the police instructions to turn around and then charges through the standing crowd around isn’t the one being arrested,” he continued.
Following graduation from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Eric Stevenson held a number of positions including Assistant State Attorney in the First Judicial Circuit of Florida. Eric has been practicing with partner Christopher Klotz since 2015 litigating personal injury and car accidents in Alabama and Florida.